Friday, February 12, 2010

A Single Man Shines

A couple days ago, I caught a showing of the excellent A Single Man, which has earned Colin Firth a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination. Firth plays George, an English Prof, moping through a single day of his life, which he intends to end with suicide. Spurning his depression is the loss of his long-time lover in a violent car accident.

The film doesn't waste its time making you feel sorry for its main character; Firth's George valiantly and smoothly moves through his final preparations without the melodrama one might anticipate. Accurately addressed is the claustrophobia of a gay man living in a 1960's Los Angeles suburban hell, forbidden by the family of his lover to even attend the funeral. That the story can tackle such difficult issues without preachiness or tear-jerking is a triumph.

Also triumphant is Julianne Moore playing Charley, Firth's aging fag-hag friend, who spends most of her time in the movie drinking, lying in bed, and/or slathering on thick eye makeup. Moore hits the mark as an aging Hollywood starlet, very much alone in the world, struggling against her body's betrayal as she grows older. The dynamics of her friendship with George provide a robust counter-balance to George pining over his life that once was.

Rounding out the cast are Ginnifer Goodwin, from one of my favorite t.v. shows of all time, Big Love and Nicholas Hoult, the title character of 2002's About A Boy. Hoult plays a potential love interest who barges his way into George's life on the very day of his planned suicide. The fresh youth of both Goodwin and Hoult's characters make the aging of Moore and Firth's characters all the more harder to watch.

The film's themes of youth vs. aging and longing vs. fulfillment were gorgeously captured and highlighted in varied hues of subdued and bright colors by cinematographer Eduard Grau and Director Tom Ford. Which makes seeing this film at home a much less desirable option than catching it on the big screen, if at all possible.

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